Tuesday 5th April
1800 GMT/ 3pm LT
.. We're underway with what looks like a reasonable weather window, at long last ..... that feels so good!!! I seem to have spent the major part of the last ten days or so requesting and then studying grib (weather) files ... over and over...
I've just spent ages watching a group of big dolphins (Peal's?) playing and jumping in twos and threes around 'Nereida', often thwacking their tails on the water as they land, while lots of black-browed albatross swooped nearby and the sun shone brightly. The air is cold and the swell is still big after 27-32 knots of SW wind gave us a good, fast (surfing nicely at 8-9 knots or more), if rolly, start to the passage from Stanley, in East Falkland, to Cape Town in South Africa - to complete a circumnavigation begun with a nonstop passage to New Zealand from there last March. After I'd eventually taken in a 3rd reef, the wind decided to calm down a bit, but still keeps gusting up occasionally to over 30 kt - so I'll leave that reef in..!
I decided to have a decent sleep last night before starting out, rather than getting away near midnight (or earlier) as I was thinking of doing when I saw the wind had died right down far earlier than expected... I'd cleared out officially on Friday and no one seemed unduly worried by my waiting around for a better weather forecast for a few more days. Another good reason to delay leaving was to give the newly-made silicon sealant gasket around the inside of the cockpit locker lid (hoping to keep the water out!) time to cure properly - thanks for all your help, Peter!
Up before dawn, into fleeces, quick breakfast. In calm weather, I'd let go all lines by 7.30, trying not to disturb Chris on 'Pelagic', and had raised the mains'l & was passing Yorke Bay, in Port William, by 8am ... Misty rain & squalls to begin with, but soon the sky began to clear and the sun got out. Still several fishing boats around, 40 miles off the coast - good to see them on AIS, but they seemed to be avoiding me.
I'd planned to head NE-NNE initially, trying to get away from the deep Lows to the S that keep coming by in quick succession.... and my kindly 'weatherman' Bob McDavitt seems to have the same view - nothing like trying to avoid the gales if at all possible - I've plenty of sea-room. There are sure to be plenty of strong winds, even when I'm further north, especially when a front passes by, but we should be heading downwind a lot of the time and I'm hoping for a quick passage. With the 3-day diversion to the north (the rhumb line course to Cape Town from Stanley is approx. 075T), the passage becomes about 3800 mls, say 4000ml.... I'm hoping to arrive early in May.